THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (1954) C 128m dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
w/Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, Marius Goring, Valentina Cortese, Rossano Brazzi
From Variety's contemporary review of the film: "Sharpness of the characters, the high-voltage dialog, the cynicism and wit and wisdom of the story, the spectacular combination of the immorally rich and the immorally sycophantic --- these add up to a click feature from writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
"Ava Gardner is the contessa of the title, 'discovered' in a second-rate flamenco nightery in Madrid. The trio of discoverers: Humphrey Bogart as a writer-director and determined member of Alcoholics Anonymous; Edmund O'Brien as a glib, nervous, perspiring combination of press agent and (apparent) procurer; and Warren Stevens, the rich producer. Gardner is ideal in her spot, looking every inch the femme magnetism around which all the action revolves. Bogart is splendid throughout, taking part quietly and with maximum effectiveness in the twists and turns of the intriguing story.
"At times, Mankiewicz, the writer, seems over-generous in providing his characters with words.
"Mankiewicz has been quoted as saying none of his characters is for real. This was in answer to suspicion that the moneybags producer might be an only slightly distorted mirroring of Howard Hughes."
Joseph L. Mankiewicz was also responsible for the superior films A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, ALL ABOUT EVE, and SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER.
THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (O'Brien). It was also nominated for Best Story and Screenplay (Mankiewicz).